The Outlaws of Sherwood

My daughter has wanted me to read The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (author of my favorite, Beauty) for over five years. I kept promising to read it, and she nearly gave up hope. But I’ve read it – and thoroughly enjoyed it!

In McKinley’s version of Robin Hood, Robin is an apprentice forester in the wood of Nottingham. One day, on his way to meet his friends Marian and Much at the fair, the sheriff’s men stop to harass him.

Robin is distracted and upset he allowed himself to be caught – and accidentally kills one of the sheriff’s men. He runs into Sherwood Forest to hide – desperately horrified with his actions.

Marian and Much find him and talk him into becoming an outlaw. He reluctantly assumes leadership of a band of outcasts – and we see him grow into his leadership and care for those around him. And into the notorious outlaw who steals from the rich to give to the poor.

The Outlaws of Sherwood starts slow, and McKinley writes in a way that shadows the old English way of speaking. Some readers will stumble through it – and those who stick with the verbiage and the slow start will be amply rewarded by this fine rendering of the Robin Hood story.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. My main problem is that I read this book while listening to Will in Scarlet. My daughter warned me I would get the story lines mixed up. Unfortunately, she was right. But that does not detract from two, very good and very different versions of a classic.

Highly recommended for ages 12 and up.

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